Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Party Animal Getting Sloppy

Actually the title does not really describe me. Well I could say that I love to party and go out to have fun with friends and family. Ever since I started earning for myself back in the Philippines, I was very fond of spending happy times with my friends. Back in the Philippines where I first worked, I have my own circle of friends to spend happy and good times. I didn't see any wrong with it because I know my limitations. I drink on parties but never an alcoholic. I don't smoke and most importantly I don't do drugs at all. My activities were just simple, going to movies and go club dancing as well as going to bars with friends.

When I arrived here in America, I found a new set of friends so I felt at home and never been feeling homesick at all. I spent a lot of time with these friends, who all came from my hometown in the Philippines.

Lately though I felt something has changed, a major change. I found out that being a home bound person can be very relaxing and at the same time cost saving. Am I getting old? I just recently celebrated my 50th birthday and yes I'm getting old but my perspective in life is still very young at heart. I just love to enjoy life but at this stage, with caution. I can only think of a few factors or reasons why I mellowed down in partying. Number one reason, I can say is my health status. My readers already knew through my previous blog entries that I have kidney issues. Because of this, I have to significantly cut down my alcohol intake and be more watchful on what I eat and drink. Another reason can by my relationship with my friends. I already found out who my real friends were and these "real" friends were quite busy with their own personal and family affairs, that cuts down the frequency of my going out on weekends. Another reason which I could not resist to mention here, is the economic situation. It just came naturally to me recently that I can control my urges to go out and spend more time at home instead.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying I no longer go out and spend some time with friends. I still go out but to more important and legitimate appointments only. If there are invitations for parties, of course I would attend if time permits. Going out of town? I'm ready for it but I have to manage my time well. I have plans for a major vacation and I have to save up on money and my vacation days.

I'm still a party animal, but this time I am very cautious and choosy on my prey.

Network Wars – Are Customers to Suffer?

It's part of business strategy. Communications networks are fighting each other to get a big share of the market and most of the time, at the expense of their subscribers.

When I first arrive here in America, I spent my first pay check on a cell phone using Cingular network. I subscribed to it because this was one of the two networks that used the GSM (Global Systems for Mobile communications) platform which is the same thing used in my home country, the Philippines. I did my homework at that time, researching online about reviews on their services and I found it appropriate for my needs. I had my mobile phone for several years until another giant network AT&T bought Cingular. We instantly became AT&T customers and eventually my phone service became poor and erratic. I couldn't get a signal inside my room and in any other parts of our house. Even outside and surrounding our house signal was very low. Then I decided to change my network to T-Mobile, another network that uses GSM platform. I didn't have any problems at all with my signal and I even observed that the signal inside our house was much better than my previous Cingular service. I can make and receive calls even when I'm lying on my bed. Then with the rise of smart phones and the popularity of social networking, the need for unlimited internet data connection was undeniable. I upgraded my subscription plan that will cater to unlimited internet data connection with T-Mobile.

Introducing the iPhone: exclusive only at AT&T. Then came the android phones together with Google powered phones and Windows phones. But most of the customers were attracted more to the iPhone and its apps and features. There were several reports and is now a known fact that iPhone users always suffered problems on connectivity like dropped calls. I have a number of friends that complained about this problem with their iPhones. Still reports came out that a big percentage of T-Mobile costumers switched to AT&T because of the iPhone. Verizon Wireless, a network that uses CDMA platform now offers iPhone so customers wanting this phone have another choice. This scenario brings T-Mobile's market share into jeopardy and just yesterday, reports came out that AT&T is going to buy T-Mobile. This would leave AT&T as the main GSM network in the USA. It was known that T-Mobile had been working on expanding their latest technology to 4G, and with this merger, I just hope that AT&T will use this to improve their sloppy service.

Millions of dollars will be paid out to T-Mobile and for sure AT&T customers, now including me, will carry the brunt through our phone bills. Maybe we may not feel the effects now pending the approval of the merger but nowadays prices have nowhere to go but up.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Loss And Hope

Five days after the devastating 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, there are still about 8,000 people missing and more than 4,300 dead. Adding to this is the threat of a nuclear meltdown which may bring a long term devastation. In the midst of chaos and hopelessness, miracles still happen. I can't forget the one that I just read online about a Japanese student studying here in America. A friend informed her that they spotted her family member on a YouTube video. She searched for the video and saw her older sister in there making a shout out to her through the news people to inform her little sister in America that the family survived the devastation. Stories like this helped the survivors as well as the rescue workers to still hope that they can still find survivors amidst the rubble. There was this international rescue worker who still keeping hope alive to find more survivors if they keep on searching.

Check this video: "California student from Japan finds family alive on YouTube"

Since we are not in Japan, all we can do is to pray for them and try to help in anyway we can. There are so many ways to help and donate money for Japan. Just go online and search for your legitimate charitable institutions that set up some fund raising for Japan's relief and recovery efforts. Japan has often donated when other countries have experienced disasters, such as when Hurricane Katrina impacted the United States.

Below are organizations that I found online that are working on relief and recovery in the region.
American Red Cross
Global Giving
Save The Children
Salvation Army
Convoy of Hope
International Medical Corps
Shelter Box

There are still more institutions and organizations in your communities that set up some programs and activities to send monetary help to the devastated nation.

As one children of God, let us all help our Japanese brothers and sisters.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Clan

I'm quite excited nowadays because I am starting to make connections with the rest of my clan. Under the family name of Lumen, a group was created in the social network Facebook by one of my cousins. It was amazing because the membership grew exponentially. We started communicating with the other members of the Lumen clan from all over. It opened the chances to possibly trace back our roots. With the help of my father, I was able to trace part of our family tree. In fact a member happened to be our second degree cousin. She mentioned that she came from my dad's original hometown and further mentioned the name of her father and her grand father. It turns out that her grand father was a half-brother of my grand father. It was such a nice feeling to be in touch with a close relative whom I never met.

Hopefully, the other members would also try to trace their respective roots in order to know the origins of the Lumens. I'm so happy that one of the main purpose of this social network became a reality for us, the Lumens. We are hoping to hold a virtual clan reunion for all the members.